Every good parent wants to keep their children safe. We don’t fill the crib with soft fluffy things. We keep medicines up high, and cleaning supplies locked up. We buckle up car seats. Gates and cabinet locks appear when babies start to become mobile, and we hold hands when crossing a parking lot or street. When we found out about my son’s food allergies, we became a nut-free house and we read food labels carefully before giving him anything.
But I’m realizing, sadly, that I’m not as good at keeping my children’s hearts protected as I am their bodies.
I’m sinful, and prone to becoming frustrated and overwhelmed easily. I get grouchy and I grumble, I get snappy and loud.
I react instead of respond.
And often, my reaction is worse than the offense I’m reacting to. I want my children to come to me with difficulties or problems, but I’m realizing that they very well might not see me as a safe person to come to, lest they get in trouble.
And if they feel like they can’t come to be with something as minor as an accident in the bathroom or a spill in the kitchen, they most definitely won’t feel safe coming to be in 5 or 10 years with the much bigger problems that teens and young adults these days often face.
The Bible has a lot to say about acting in anger. Here are just a few verses.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,slow to speak, slow to anger
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.
The Bible also has a few things to say about being slow to anger, and forgiveness. Of giving grace. Being patient.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
I want to be a safe place for my children to come to when they’re struggling. I want my first concern to be for their heart, not for my floors or mental chore list. A mess they make lasts only a few minutes, but my words and reactions will last in their hearts for a lot longer.
And to be straight out with it, when I blow things out of proportion and get snappy, I’m sinning. A harsh word stirs up anger; do not provoke your children to anger.
Bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. How does God deal with my repeated mistakes? With love and grace and forgiveness. That needs to be my goal.
I need to store these verses in my heart. I need to stop before I react. I need to repent and ask forgiveness when I slip, so that my kids will realize that I know it’s not OK, and that I’m trying.
Do you struggle with a tendency to react out of anger or frustration, instead of responding with patience and grace? How do you work toward making a habit of responding to circumstances in a more humble way? I’d love to hear from you!